Lee County Biography


John P. Harvey, proprietor of the John P. Harvey Bridge & Iron Works at Amboy, is a native of Lee county. He was born in Amboy township, March 28, 1860, his parents being Michael and Ellen (McGill) Harvey. His father and mother came from Ireland to the new world, settling in New York, whence they removed to this county in the spring of 1850 and took up their abode in Amboy township on a tract of land which was wild prairie, having traveled by stage from Chicago to Lee Center. The father was a democrat in politics and though not an office seeker, was always interested in the welfare and progress of the community. He died in 1866, his wife remaining on the old homestead until the time of her death, which occurred in 1903, when she was buried by his side in May township in what is known as the Sandy Hill cemetery.

John P. Harvey is the youngest of seven children. The family included but one daughter, Mary who died at Cheyenne, Wyoming in 1874 when twenty-six years of age. A brother, Charles died at the age of twenty-seven and both he and his sister are buried with their parents in Sandy Hill cemetery The others of the family are Thomas E., attorney at law at Lead, South Dakota, he being one of the attorneys who tried the first civil suit in the Black Hills, and was also the first postmaster of Custer City which was one of the earlier mining camps of the Hills ; James, a farmer of Marion township; Peter, a farmer of Denison, Iowa; and Michael, who occupies the old homestead.

The education of John P. Harvey was acquired in the country schools which he attended until seventeen years of age, after which he devoted his attention to the work of the home farm until he was twenty years of age, and then entered the employ of the Illinois Central Railroad as a bridge worker and was thus employed for four years. He then returned to the home farm, where he remained for a brief period, but subsequently became a fireman on the Illinois Central Railroad.

He was later appointed, and served for two years, as a police officer, afterwards serving as marshal of Amboy for eight years. He next became an employe in the Charles C. Jacobs Bridge & Iron Works, in which he was advanced to the position of manager, acting in that capacity for several years before purchasing the business in 1908. He is now at the head of one of the important industrial enterprises of Amboy, enjoying a business which is constantly growing in extent and importance. His long training in mechanical lines has well qualified him for the important duties which now devolve upon him and which have brought to him a substantial measure of success.

At Amboy on the 6th of January. 188.5, Mr. Harvey was united in marriage to Miss Bridget Sparks, a daughter of Michael and Bridget (King) Sparks. Her father, who came to Lee county in the '70s was an employe of the Illinois Central Railroad Company. Both he and his wife have passed away and their remains were interred in St. Patrick's cemetery at Amboy. Mr. Harvey owns two residence properties which he has recently remodeled He also built and still owns a fifty by one hundred foot brick building which is used by Edmund Neville as a garage.

In politics he is a democrat and for six years he filled the office of alderman, exercising his official prerogatives in such an admirable and beneficial manner that he was chosen mayor of the city and continued in that position for four years. His public service, like his private life, has been characterized by intense activity, looking to the betterment of the things under his control and as mayor and business man he has enjoyed the confidence and good-will of the general public.

Transcribed by Karen Holt - 1914 History of Lee County Illinois Vol 2 by Frank E. Stevens.

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